No.63 | Colombo | Sri Lanka | Asia

No.63 | Colombo | Sri Lanka | Asia

Buddha in Polonnaruwa temple

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Sri Lanka travel guide by Lonely Planet

Visit Sri Lanka

By: yasantha srimal

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

Best time to travel to Sri Lanka is between the main rainy seasons. The period from November to April is the driest season on the south west coast and up in the hills. Here, some of the best beaches and many other places of tourist interest are located. Therefore, period between November and April is the best time to visit this region and this period is also considered as tourist season in Srilanka. May to September is the best time to visit east coast, as it is dry during this period. Hence, Sri Lanka is round-the-year destination-there is always a good time to visit at least some part of the country.

Beaches of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a land of Sun and Sand. Over one thousand kilometers of palm- fringed sandy beaches encircle the Island. The beach resorts are scattered all over the country and offer a range of destinations to chose from. Srilanka is never out of the season for a beach holiday and some part of the country always offer warm and friendly waters. It is an ideal location to relax and unwind.

National Parks & Wildlife in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is famous for its wildlife. There are many National parks and sanctuaries where one can see animals in their natural habitat. Major animals that roam in National Park include elephants, leopards, sloth bears, deers, monkeys, wild buffalos, wild boars, porcupines, civet cats, jackals, mongooses, several varieties of lizards, squirrels, reptiles and amphibians.

Yala (Ruhuna) National Park:

Yala National Park with an area of 1259 sq km is the biggest National Park in Srilanka. The Park is located 309 km south of Colombo on the southeast of the island. The national park is divided into Yala West (also called Ruhuna) and Yala East. Yala West or Ruhuna National Park is one of the best parks in the world to observe and photograph leopards. There are about 35 leopards in the park, which probably is the highest density anywhere in the world. Other animals that can be seen in the park are elephants, sloth bear, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, toque monkey, mongoose and crocodiles. Yala East contains a large variety of water birds.

Gal Oya National Park: Gal Oya National Park is located 314 km away from Colombo in Inginiyagala district. Park has an area 260 sq km and is surrounded by the largest tank in Sri Lanka-Senanayake Samudra. The park is renowned for its elephant population. There are about 150 elephants in the park. The best time visit the park is between March and July.

Uda Walawe National Park:

Situated 170 km southeast of Colombo, the Uda Walawe National Park lies within the Ratnapura and Monaragala districts. It is largely inhabited by elephants, spotted deer, sambhur, water buffaloes, mongoose, bandicoots, foxes, water monitor lizards, crocodiles, wild boars, toque monkeys, grey langur, leopards and various varieties of snakes.

Wasgamuwa National Park:

Situated approximately 200 km away from Colombo, the Wasgamuwa National Park lies within the Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts and has the Mahaweli River and Amban River as its eastern and western boundaries. The wildlife includes elephants, wild buffaloes, spotted deer, leopards, sloth bears, water monitors and crocodiles.

Horton Plains National Park:

The Horton Plains National Park is situated some 200 km away from Colombo, amidst hills in Nuwara Eliya district. The most amazing feature of the park is the `World’s End’ where the southern part of the plains comes to a sudden end and drops almost straight down for 700 m. The park contains a rich variety of birds and animals.

Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage Sri Lanka

Pinnawela elephant orphanage has existed since 1975 and has grown to become one of the most popular attractions of Sri Lanka.

Before the arrival of the British in 1815 an estimated 30,000 elephants lived on the island. In the 1960s, the elephant population was close to extinction. This prompted the Sri Lankan government to found an orphanage for elephants that had lost their mothers or herds. Today, their number is around 3,000.

Pinnawela, about 80 km northeast of Colombo, is regarded as the biggest herd of captive elephants in the world. Among the elephants is one that lost a foot when it stepped on a mine. Another is blind and is totally reliant on humans. The elephant herd in Pinnawela makes the journey to the river twice a day to bathe under the eyes of the tourists. For a few Sri Lankan rupees they are allowed to touch the animals. The sound of cameras clicking increases everytime one of the young elephant babies splashes about in the water. But anyone who wants to take a picture of the babies feeding in the orphanage has to pay extra for the privilege.

Some 110 people are employed to care for the herd feeding them with leaves from palm trees. About 14,000 kg of food are needed every day. The Pinnawela elephant orphanage is financed by the government and by charging visitors to see the animals.


Kandy-a major tourist destination-is also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 m, it is located at a distance of 115 km from Colombo.

Kandy has a rich history. It was originally known as Senkadagala pura after a hermit named Senkada who lived there. Many of Sinhalese people call it Mahanuwara meaning the Great City. The name Kandy was derived by the colonial rulers from the word Kanda in Sinhala, meaning a hill. Kandy was the stronghold of the Sinhalese kings, who promoted and protected the local culture until the city fell to the British in 1815.

Today a bustling commercial city, Kandy is famous for the Kandy Perahara-a huge cultural pageant that takes place in the month of July or August. It is one of the most colorful processions of the world. Thousands of drummers and dancers accompanying a parade of ornamented elephants perform in the streets of Kandy. The leading tusker carries the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, while the spectators pay homage to it. The procession moves along the streets for seven consecutive nights and concludes on the day of the August full moon.

City Travel Guide

The Temple of Tooth:

Also known as Dalda Maligawa, it is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. Here, one of the Buddha’s teeth is kept. The temple was built in the 17th century. A golden canopy has been added recently. Daily rituals are performed three times a day-at 4.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m., and 6.30 p.m. respectively.

Gadaladeniya Temple:

Built in 1344, the temple is situated on a hilltop at a distance of 15 km from the town. The temple is inspired by Dravidian architecture and gives a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

Peradeniya Gardens:

The garden-a paradise for nature lover- was built in 14th century during the reign of king Vikrama Bahu III. The best-known attraction of the garden is the orchid House, which houses more than 300 varieties of exquisite orchids. A spice garden located here gives you a first hand account of the trees and plants used in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

Embekke Temples:

This 14th century temple is famous for the intricate wooden carvings dedicated to God Katargama. Almost the entire structures of some wooden buildings are decorated with dancers, musicians, wrestlers, legendary beasts and birds. Nearby are the ruins of an ancient rest house with similar pillars carved in stone.

Lankatilaka Temple:

Lankatilaka temple dates back to 14th century. It is built on the summit of a rock called Panhalgala. The temple provides a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding hills, paddy fields and the diverse vegetation around it.

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Article Source: Sri Lanka

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